Sleeping More During the Night Makes You Eat Less Sugar During the Day

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A good night's rest can do more for your health than you think. JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Here's yet another reason for squeezing an extra hour into your total sleep time. New research has found that people who sleep more eat better throughout the day, and particularly consume fewer sugary foods than their less-rested counterparts.

The study, published online in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that increasing the amount of sleep at night will decrease daytime sugar consumption. This reduction is subconscious and at the moment it’s not really clear what's behind the connection, but the results suggest that sleep extension may become an easy and feasible way for adults to help cut down on how much sugar they eat.

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The study was originally designed to investigate whether or not it was possible to successfully help volunteers extend the amount of time they sleep during the evening through a series of tips and pointers. Researchers from King’s College London divided 42 healthy adults into two groups. One group was advised and trained on techniques to improve their sleep while the other received no intervention. These sleeping tips included advice such as consuming less caffeine before bedtime and not going to sleep too hungry or too full, Live Science reported. However, data was also collected on diet quality, and that is where the study got interesting.

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Volunteers’ sleep and food consumption patterns were recorded for four weeks. Of the 21 volunteers given sleep advice, 86 percent were able to increase their nightly rest by up to an hour and a half. In turn, the study showed that volunteers who increased their rest also decreased their sugar intake during the day by up to 10 grams, News Medical reported.

Study author Wendy Hall, a senior lecturer at King's College London who specializes in diabetes and nutritional sciences told Newsweek that this study alone cannot determine whether or not sleep directly caused decreased sugar intake, but she has an idea why the two behaviors may be linked.

“It’s likely that an earlier bedtime limits snacking behaviors late at night (e.g. while watching TV),” Hall said. “Furthermore, there is also the theory that sleep deprivation may increase activity of reward mechanisms in the brain which govern the desire for highly palatable foods, particularly during times of emotional stress. Extending sleep may mitigate these pleasure-seeking responses to food.”

The results need to be replicated in order to determine if sleep patterns actually caused the differences in diet habits. However, if a cause and effect is proven, Hall suggests that in the future sleep may be used in combination with dietary intake and physical activity as a holistic approach to preventing a number of  health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.